WOODLAND, Calif. (KCRA/CNN) - A California father about to be freed from prison has been arrested in the decades-old killings of five of his infant children in a case the sheriff said has haunted his department.
Five children less than 6 months old are believed to have died at the hands of their father, 57-year-old Paul Perez. He is charged with torturing his children before killing them, according to Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.
“This is not a day that will bring joy to any one of us,” said Yolo County Sheriff Tom Lopez. “In my 40 years in law enforcement, I cannot think of a case more disturbing than this one.”
Perez is accused of killing the children between 1992 and 2001. He was just days from being released from prison when his DNA was matched with evidence in the cold case of infant Nikko Lee Perez, whom a fisherman found dead in an irrigation slough in 2007.
The baby, who was wrapped in a Winnie the Pooh blanket, suffered multiple fractures of his skull, ribs and left leg before he died, according to the autopsy report. It wasn’t until October that DNA technology was able to identify him.
With Nikko’s DNA, authorities were able to create a list of potential siblings or parents, leading to the identification of Perez as the baby’s probable father.
“We’re here because, as seen in other cases around the nation, the science and power of DNA has shown that monsters and killers cannot hide forever any longer,” Reisig said.
Investigators soon learned Nikko, who had been born in 1996, had siblings. Kato Allen Perez, born in 1992, is known to be deceased, according to the sheriff’s office.
Three others – Mika Alena Perez, born in 1995; Nikko Lee Perez, born in 1997; and Kato Krow Perez, born in 2001 – are believed to be deceased, but their remains have not been located.
“Yes, it is unusual. There’s actually the first Kato, and then, there’s a Nikko and another Nikko and then, another Kato with a different middle name,” Lopez said. “So, that did raise suspicion on our part.”
Perez’s arraignment is set for Tuesday afternoon. He has a long criminal record for assault, car theft and manufacturing a deadly weapon while in prison.
“There’s absolutely no place in society for these kind of horrendous crimes against our children,” said Ed Medrano with the California Department of Justice.
Lopez says the investigation is not over. Among other leads, authorities are looking to see if Perez may have fathered more children that haven’t been identified yet.
Investigators have not identified the mothers of any of Perez’s children.